Expanding your Online Shop Overseas for New E-commerce Merchants (part 2)

Learn more about the key marketing considerations to grow your business internationally.

This article is part 2 in a series on expanding your e-commerce store internationally. Part 1 can be found here.

After running the business for some time, you may start experiencing a plateau in your revenues as your online shop is probably limited to the local market. This is when you should start expanding your business to an overseas market – just one market at a time.

To get ready, business owners should gather key information on the target market(s) such as several buyers’ personas and the country’s popular online platforms.

In this part, we take a deep dive in the third step: marketing your products to your new overseas customer base.

Step 3: Marketing your products to local shoppers

Selling your products in a different market requires the same level of understanding of your local customers’ needs, and that trust from your customers will also be built upon the right products and services that you deliver.

The difference, in this case, is that you might be selling your products in an entirely different language, following different annual events in your new market’s schedule and also catering to different buyer’s personas which you’re targeting. As the saying goes, “Go global, think local.”

This ties back to knowing what your market wants and what you can offer. By asking yourself the questions that relate to your target audience (see part 1), you should be able to identify your business’s unique selling proposition for your new market. Knowing your target market will also inform how you can approach building a trusting, long term relationship with your customers.

1.Building Trust with Your Potential Customers

Before smartphones became prevalent, customers like Kathy could walk to a local shophouse within her neighbourhood to buy groceries and other knick-knacks. She and the shop owner, Jamal, could have conversations about everyday life, their family members, and trade local gossip. After that, Kathy would get exactly what she needed and never needed to worry about its quality. She trusts Jamal.

Building trust is going to come with engaging your consumers and letting them know you understand what they need, and that you deliver on your promises. We’ll cover building conversations first

2.Building conversations

While Kathy and Jamal’s type of close relationship is harder to come by these days, engagement and conversations between consumers and sellers have taken on a new form online. Online platforms like social media have turned into new ways that sellers can attract and engage consumers.

According to Neil Patel, customers spend 20%-40% more with companies that they have social media engagement with. The idea here is to create conversations with the target audience. When doing this in a new market, it’ll be a good idea to have a team who can understand and connect with what locals like and don’t like.

This local team will also be able to use these insights to create engaging content for the market. Companies like YesStyle and Sorabelle frequently create blogposts and social media posts to engage their target markets’ love for fashion. Publishing great content and taking time to answer people’s queries or, at times, asking the audience for feedback also helps grow your follower base.

While all these techniques help you to win the long game, you can still factor in techniques like discounts, promos, flash sales and paid ads. These are still vital in the short run to build awareness of your e-commerce store. Fortunately, there are quite a number of tools and guides to help you with both the long-game and with short term campaigns in your overseas expansion.

3.Leverage Marketing Tools Online Creating content

In today’s age, people are less likely to respond to ads that are pushed at them and more likely to seek out things that interest them on their own. Finding out what they love and how your products and store can fit in their lives is half the battle.

As mentioned, having a great team who’s in tune with what your new market loves is a great start. What you can also make use of is data. If you’re starting out in a new market, you won’t have any historical data to work with but you can build it up by seeing what your competitors are up to and also by researching keywords and phrases to optimise your SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation – but in easier terms, it’s the secret sauce that gets your website found on search engines for your chosen keywords. By strategically placing keywords into great content on your site, you can soon start ranking on search engines and grab what’s known as organic traffic – traffic you don’t need to spend advertising money on.

Check out SEO tools like the free Google Keywords Planner, or paid alternatives like SEMRush or Ahrefs. These tools use their respective company’s paid software, so you’ll be able to pick up tips on what to look out for when selecting keywords

4.Social media ideas

Social media doesn’t necessarily work the same way in different markets. For instance, LINE is quite popular in Thailand while Facebook interactions are key in places where social commerce is king. Once again, have a team with a great understanding of what’s popular in the market and have a good look at your competitors’ successful social posts to get some ideas of your own.

You can find tips for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, getting chatbots for instant messaging (Whatsapp), livestreaming, and also covers some advice on how you can even start selling via social media.

This is a short-and-sweet guide to some social media tactics you can use to get started. It covers tips like making use of your reviews, how you can interact with your audience in different ways on social media, and make even your website’s content more social media friendly.

5.Paid Tools and Promo Tactics

When you’re entering a new market, it’s a good idea to keep track of when the hottest e-commerce sales periods take place.

Making full use of these periods means preparing market-specific discounts, promotions and campaigns tailored to that event. In cases like these, running paid campaigns such as Facebook ads and Google ads could potentially capture more traffic and drive more sales to your e-commerce store.

Google Ads Guides:
One good starting point for online paid advertisements is Google Ads. This builds on the tips and keywords that you’ll be covering for your SEO too. In case this is your first time using Google Ads, here are some resources which might come in handy:

This guide will help you go through the different steps you’ll need to see your Google Ads campaign from start to finish. It covers all the key terms you’ll need to get started such as the different campaign types, different types of keywords and keyword match types and how you can manage your payment types, goals and metrics for your campaign.

This resource by Google helps you to familiarise yourself with the layout and how Google ads can help you. If you want to get serious and even get certified in this area, there’s Google Ads Fundamentals, which is part of Google’s Academy for Ads. Ads Fundamentals is more in-depth than the basics resource but the knowledge it equips you with will help you get your first overseas Google Ads campaign up and running.

By now, we’re all familiar with Facebook being a cornerstone of any digital marketing strategy. While the earlier resources for social media mention the posts you can use to grow organically, this resource by Facebook also contains detailed Facebook Ads guide for your paid social media campaigns.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to engage your audience in a long-term conversation. Provide them with topics and content that they’re attracted to and place your content in channels that they’re comfortable with, be those blogs and social media.

Join us in part 3 where we cover the final step – providing a great shipping experience


Amanda Lim writes for Janio Asia content and bring fresh insights into e-commerce and e-logistics.Her article was published here